If you have ever wondered, “When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?” or “When should my child begin using fluoride?” this blog is for you! We’ve outlined these important milestones by ages and stages. Take a look!
How to Care for Your Child’s Teeth by Age
0-1 Years Old
Before your child has any teeth, you should be wiping their gums with a warm, wet cloth after meals to remove bacteria. At 4-7 months old, their teeth should begin to come in. At this point, you should start brushing with a gentle, children’s toothbrush twice daily.
Your child will begin eating solid foods by this time. Be sure to give them healthy, low-sugar foods and drinks like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and water. It is the sugar in the food we eat that fuels the bacteria in our mouths to produce the acid that eats away at our teeth and causes tooth decay. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks between meals and do not put your child to bed with a bottle as this allows food to rest on their teeth as they sleep.
1-2 Years Old
It is recommended that children make their first visit to the dentist around their first birthday. This will give the dentist the opportunity to take a look at your child’s emerging teeth and it will allow your child to become comfortable with visiting the dentist. After their first visit, your child should visit the dentist once every six months just like their parents.
Between 1-2 years old, you can begin introducing a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush, about the size of a grain of rice or a pea. Use fluoride-free toothpaste with your young child as it is okay if swallowed.
2-4 Years Old
At 2 years old, your child should be able to manage a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, but they should be instructed to spit it out when you are done brushing their teeth. Show your child how a small amount can be spread a long way over their teeth, gums, and tongue.
Discuss the amount of fluoride in your local, city water with your dentist, as well as the fluoride toothpaste you are using. They may recommend a simple, fluoride varnish with each cleaning if your child is not getting enough to strengthen their teeth.
WARNING: Too much fluoride can stain and harm your child’s teeth. Be sure they do not swallow their fluoride toothpaste.
Your child may suck their thumb or fingers up to age 4, but you should monitor their habit closely after this as it may cause developmental issues for their adult teeth. Discuss your child’s habit with their dentist if you are concerned about this occurring.
6-8 Years Old
At 6 years old, your child may begin losing their baby teeth and their adult teeth may begin to emerge. Your dentist may discuss orthodontic treatment with you if he thinks it may be necessary as your child’s adult teeth come in.
At 7 or 8 years old, your child should be able to manage the brushing of their own teeth. Let your child choose their own color of toothbrush and flavor of toothpaste so they feel in control! Remind them that they should brush twice daily, floss once daily, and brush for two minutes each time. If they are struggling with the length of time, consider playing one of their favorite songs to keep them on track. Watch to make sure your child follows the “rules” and continues to spit out their toothpaste.
You should switch-out your child’s toothbrush every 3-6 months, whenever the bristles appear to be worn, or if they have had a recent illness.
9-12 Years Old
Up to 12 years old, your child’s baby teeth will continue to be replaced by their adult counterparts. At this age, it is important that your child wear a mouth guard if they play any sports to protect their permanent, adult teeth.
What stage is your child in? If they are ready to make their first visit to the dentist, or if you are currently looking for a new family dentist, we would love it if you gave us a call. At Valley Dental Clinic, our staff have over 40 years of working with children of all ages!